Watching Your Back: Defense is Offense

Marvin Liao
2 min readJun 13, 2024

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The funny thing about becoming an adult. There are always problems in some sphere of your life, health, finances, business/work and family. And as much as you try to separate all these spheres of your life, it easily spills over. The highs of life are when you have alignment of all these aspects, but the other side of this alignment is when things go wrong.

In life, there is a rule of three. So when things go wrong, they go wrong in so many aspects at the same time or in quick succession that it becomes very overwhelming. It happened to me in 2001 and vividly in 2020. 2022, 2023 and 2024 so far were not exactly fun for me either.

My health and business life seemed to be going well, but my family life has been pretty disastrous the last few years. And you cannot help but be affected by it. And here is the thing: you cannot hide from it forever. You eventually have to deal with it.

Using a military analogy, you cannot attack at the front if your back is unprotected. The most terrifying thing to happen to an army is when they are attacked from behind. Very few armies come back from this. They usually end up being overwhelmed and destroyed.

This analogy is relevant for our lives. You can’t in the long run, sustainably do good work in your career or business if your family life is a mess. This is literally why the role of military NCO’s aka sergeants are so critical. Before the mission or deployment, they check with each member of the team to understand if there is anything going on at home that will affect their performance in the field. Bad performance leading to fatalities of themselves and their teammates.

Repercussions in business are not as severe. But for long term success, I either have to fix my family issues or frankly stop being in a family as hard as it is. But to figure this out, using the same analogy, you have to gather retreat to get perspective and gather your resources. Rest and refit before you jump back into the fray.

That’s why I spent a lot of time on the road in 2023 and 2024. Yes, there were lots of business reasons for sure as Q2 & Q4 usually tends to be crazy. But frankly, I had to find a “sanctuary” or “safe house” metaphorically to clear my head. As I had written before, a place that I’ve discovered sadly is that my true home and comfort is a nice hotel room overseas. A setting I know very well over the last 20+ years of working and building businesses abroad. A place you can retreat, rest and lick your wounds, think, and plan. This gives you a chance to tackle your problems and protect your back. Only then can you truly perform at your best and get back on the offensive in life.

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Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com